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Riverside Theater, June 10, 2011

Waiting For The Band
At this venue, the stage door is located at the end of an alley, which is too skinny for the bus to enter (especially with one of the band's semi-trucks parked there). The last time I was here, I waited by the door. This year, I waited up by the street. I could see the roadies' bus parked about a block away. You can always tell when the band's bus is approaching when Mark Hogue, the band's tour director, comes out to wait for it.

The bus came at around 5:15. Mark was in radio contact with the bus, and guided it around the block after it approached the alley from the wrong direction. It was entertaining to hear both sides of that conversation! The bus came back around the corner and pulled up to the alley entrance. The door opened, and the first thing to be tossed out was a pair of white clogs! Next came Alan in his socks, who stood and laughed as he put his clogs on. I have a feeling there's never a dull moment with him around! Graeme and John each had a security person walk with them down the alley, and Justin walked with Mark. There were about five or six fans there.

The Onstage Tour
This year, the VIP package at the Riverside included a stage tour without the Storytellers session. Hearing the band answer questions is certainly more fun, but the tour does provide some great photo opportunities. We went up the stairs at stage left, walked across the stage, took photos of the setlists on the floor and the instruments, had our photo taken in front of Graeme's drums, and went down the stairs at stage right. The stage manager was on hand to answer questions.

Justin's setlist had numbers written next to each song....these were the settings for his foot control box. Since Meanwhile was a new addition to the set this year, John felt more comfortable having a set of lyrics on the floor next to his spot. It's common knowledge that the name of the city is also taped above John's setlist, and has been ever since he announced at a Chicago show that it was "so nice to be back in Detroit!" It was also fun to examine the Farfisa keyboard up close!

Those of us who knew that the band had been skipping some songs due to Justin's illness were particularly interested in the setlist. We were glad to see all of the songs on it, plus Talking Out Of Turn, which was added after the cancelled Boise concert in order to fill out the set with some John vocals.

Unfortunately, we didn't get to hear any of the soundcheck.

more Milwaukee photos >>>

The Concert
Buying a VIP package from Moody Blues Today doesn't always guarantee you'll get a front row seat. But this time, I lucked out. Front row center!

This was a fabulous show, and the crowd was certainly ready for it! The band was greeted by standing ovations, audience members clapping and singing along, and the obligatory "You guys are awesome!" shouted out by some guy in the third row.

As far as the mix goes, I did notice that Justin's voice sometimes seemed lower in volume than usual, and Julie's voice was amplified. At these times, it almost sounded like he was in the background. Julie doubled some of his vocals, since his voice was not back to its full strength. Most of the time, though, he sounded just like his old self.

Gordy and Alan have so much fun on stage! Alan is always jumping around, or laughing, or pointing to someone and smiling. During Peak Hour, he twirled completely around between each chord he played as the song got faster and faster, and John kept egging him on. Things are certainly lively at that end of the stage.

Talking Out Of Turn was a nice addition to the show. Although The Other Side Of Life was on the setlist, they didn't do it at this concert. This was a shame, since 250 glowsticks had been passed out by Bonnie, a fan who always brings a large supply.

There are some new stage graphics this year, which were very nice. The fog machines didn't pump out as much fog as last year, which was also a good thing. However, the new lighting scheme really left a lot to be desired. Most of the time, the lights were aimed at the audience, and they were so bright at one point that I had to shut my eyes. One of the perils of sitting up close? Maybe, but I've sat up close before, and they weren't like that.

Nights In White Satin, of course, is Justin's signature tune. At some of the shows following his illness, he "talked" his way through the song, calling it the "longest, whitest rap you'll ever hear." There was no talking tonight, and he sang it with as much passion as ever. The only difference being, he didn't hold out the note at the end nearly as long as he usually does.

The last few songs really rock, and even though it's the end of the show, it's probably my favorite part. We're all up at the stage, grooving and clapping and cheering, and the band is just having the best time ever. The lady next to me got John's pick, and an extremely overdressed girl actually hoisted her entire body on stage to grab the pick that Justin had flicked away at the end of Question.

During the final applause, John clasped Justin's hand and held it up for a few moments. Part congratulatory, part reassuring, this one gesture spoke volumes about their brotherly relationship and the bond they've shared for practically their entire lives. It was nice to see.

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